Mexican Drug Traffickers Sentenced to U.S. Prison Time

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The Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit confiscated a number of items during a Monday drug bust, including methamphetamine, firearms and drug paraphernalia.

Three defendants were sentenced to lengthy terms in United States prison as a result of their participation in the Mexico-based Arellano-Felix drug organization, or AFO, according to a report obtained by the Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs Committee of the National Association of Chiefs of Police

Jesus Labra-Aviles and Armando Martinez-Duarte were sentenced Tuesday to 40 years and 18 years imprisonment, respectively. In addition, on March 29, 2010, Jorge Aureliano Felix was sentenced to 30 years in prison. United States District Judge Larry A. Burns, who imposed the sentences, also ordered Labra and Felix to forfeit $1 million each.

The sentences follow the defendants’ guilty pleas in October 2009 to crimes arising from their leadership of the AFO. According to court documents, for nearly two decades, the AFO controlled drug trafficking and other criminal activity in the Tijuana or Mexicali areas of Baja California, Mexico.

All of the defendants admitted in their guilty pleas that AFO members distributed indeterminable amounts of cocaine and marijuana exceeding hundreds of tons each. The defendants also admitted that AFO members paid millions of dollars in bribes to Mexican law enforcement, government, and military officials to evade capture and prosecution.

Court documents establish Labra, who was convicted of conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana, partnered with Benjamin Arellano-Felix to obtain large amounts of cocaine and marijuana. Labra admitted as part of his guilty plea that he helped organize and lead the conspiracy, which involved hundreds of members and associates. Labra also acknowledged that he was consulted on major decisions and directed the actions of others.

According to court documents, Duarte, who was convicted of conspiring to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, was a corrupt federal law enforcement officer in Mexico paid by AFO leaders to provide information about investigations targeting the AFO, escort and protect AFO members and drug shipments, and intervene when other law enforcement officers targeted or arrested AFO members.

Duarte also helped place certain individuals in ranking law enforcement positions in areas under the AFO’s control.

According to court papers, Felix, who was convicted of conducting the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiring to invest illicit drug profits, was a top lieutenant to the AFO’s daily operations manager.

Felix and his immediate supervisors were in charge of receiving large drug shipments in Mexico, smuggling drugs into the United States, coordinating the distribution of shipments within the United States, collecting drug proceeds, and policing Tijuana for enemies, suspected informants, and uncooperative law enforcement or military personnel.

All three defendants were extradited from Mexico to the United States in December of 2008. Their convictions bring to six the number of AFO leaders who have been sentenced in the Southern District of California since 2006.

Another defendant, Efrain Perez, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3, 2010, by Judge Burns.

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